After more than four decades of evaluating children, teens, adults, and providing skillful interventions for a broad spectrum of issues, I am ready to help you battle the depression and/or anxiety that is keeping your from being your best self, end low self-esteem, walk with you through life transitions, deal with crippling stress, heal the scars of past or current emotional abuse, and sort out trust issues in relationships. This is not just what I do; this is who I am called to be.
or Call Micki W. Simms, M.Ed, LMFT at 1-800-651-8085 ext. 33192
What I Usually Need to Know to Help
The first therapy session is different than subsequent sessions as it is often primarily focused on gathering information about the client, his family, living and work situations, how the client views his problem, and his expectation of the therapeutic process. It is also important to know if one is seeing another therapist or psychiatrist at the time of the interview, what medications one may be taking, and by whom one was referred.
At the first meeting, I ask more questions, perhaps, than at other times in therapy, and take notes as I'm becoming acquainted with the individual. I'm also trying to determine whether or not I will be able to adequately address the needs of the person before me.
Issues covered will relate to the therapy process itself and the general length of time a course of therapy might be expected to run. This session contains many hallmarks of an interview but is to gain a sense of the person before me, his perceptions of the world, his hopes, and expectations.
Time is always left for the client to define what has brought him to this place and what current stressors and frustrations are that have accompanied him. My goal is to address at least one thing brought to the table so the individual leaves feeling that there will be issues on which we can work effectively and that his problems are not overwhelming. This closure is extremely important as it gives the person something positive on which to focus leaving the session.
The first session is often the most stressful for therapist and client as we are getting to know one another and the individual is perhaps more emotionally vulnerable than ever before. In taking this risk, one can learn if any insights are offered by the therapist about what is shared. If a person begins to delve too deeply into one part of his experience, I may redirect him at this juncture, assuring him that we will return to that topic at a later time. Sharing an abundance of material can make one feel too vulnerable to want to return, in some cases, and it is my task to prevent that at all costs.
The critical initial session sets the tone for therapy sessions going forward and for the trust and comfort level which the therapist and client will build together and develop over time.
Importance of the Client-Therapist Alliance
The basic paradigm for doing the work of therapy is the alliance between therapist and client. This relationship is the venue in which the work takes place, all progress is measured by both client and therapist. The bond between the persons in this dyad cannot be overstated but the one critical element that keeps the work fluid and makes progress possible is strong, consistent boundaries on the part of the therapist. If therapy is to be the springboard from which all emotions flow freely, the therapeutic environment must feel safe, warm, and nurturing. In order for this to occur, the the ethical therapist will set tight boundaries around fees, the length of sessions, fee schedules regarding additional time if the client wishes to extend a session, cancellation policies, filing insurance, and working with adjunct professionals. At the outset, the therapist's policies regarding phone calls and after-hour calls, along with all of the afore- mentioned must be made clear.
On occasions, a client and therapist may encounter one another in a public setting. This can be viewed positively by the client if the meeting is treated with warmth by the therapist and feelings about the encounter are discussed at the next session. The safety of the therapeutic setting prohibits interpersonal interaction between therapist and client outside the therapeutic venue but certainly a comfortable, positive interaction is quite possible and a desirable outcome.
It is necessary for therapist and client to hold a mutual respect for one another and for both to view the therapy with hopefulness and a view toward a positive outcome. If a therapist does not feel that the client's issues are within his/her purview, many times, a referral will be made to a colleague for ancillary work in a certain area or a discussion between client and therapist may determine that another therapist or type therapy would be more suited to dealing with the issues at hand. The ethical therapist will make such suggestions to the client and not continue seeing one whom he/she is not competent to treat.
You are embarking on a journey of self-discovery, awakening consciousness, and healing. This requires a careful choice in the partner who will be your guide along the way.